The number of Montrealers giving up some aspects of "work from home" culture and returning to their workplace at least part of the time has more than doubled since June, according to a new survey by the Montreal Board of Trade in collaboration with Léger.
Montreal Board of Trade President and CEO Michel Leblanc said in a statement that the number of people going back to the office, either full-time or part-time, has climbed from 28% in June, to 47% in August, to 61% in the current survey – which was conducted from October 26 to November 5 of this year.
The results show "once again that the return of workers to the office is underway," Leblanc said. The most recent figures, which include 29% going back full time and 32% a few days a week, are "a very promising advance for the revitalization of downtown Montreal," he said.
The Board of Trade says its main goal with the survey was to discover how managers and employees felt about returning to a shared workspace. The survey focused on managers' and workers' feelings around issues like mental health, the use of the vaccine passport, and going back to working and doing business face-to-face.
The results show that 71% of workers are comfortable with the idea of returning to work in person. And for 62% of those who came back to the grind of regular office life, the possibility of working flexible hours was a big incentive.
At the same time, a majority of respondents – 76%, down from 78% in August and 84% in June – still like working from home.
The impacts of working from home were nonetheless notable, with 40% of people reporting a loss of team spirit and about 29% having trouble maintaining a healthy work/life balance.
Thanks to the pandemic, working from home is becoming increasingly common — but some argue remote work makes it even harder to unplug. Following in the footsteps of Ontario's recently passed Working for Workers Act, 2021, Québec solidaire has tabled a bill proposing that Quebecers be entitled to "the right to disconnect" outside of work hours.
Bill 799, presented by Hochelaga-Maisonneuve MNA Alexandre Leduc, aims to "ensure that employees' rest time is respected." How? By requiring that employers set time periods when employees are allowed to disconnect from job-related communications — whether emails, Zoom calls or Slack messages.
Le #PL799 (Loi sur le droit \u00e0 la d\u00e9connexion) a \u00e9t\u00e9 pr\u00e9sent\u00e9 le 10 d\u00e9cembre 2021 par le d\u00e9put\u00e9 d\u2019Hochelaga-Maisonneuve @LeducAlexandre \u00e0 l'Assembl\u00e9e nationale.\n\n#assnat #travauxparlpic.twitter.com/mvABz1gGVE
The bill also proposes that employers create a "protocol for the use of communication tools outside working hours."
If the bill were to pass, workplaces with 100 or more employees would need to develop their "off-duty disconnection policy" by way of a committee made up of 50 percent employees or employee representatives.
Employers with less than 100 employees would develop the policy themselves but would need to get it approved by La Commission des normes, de l'équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail, which you may know as the CNESST.
The penalties for violating the terms of the law, according to the bill, would be fines between $2,000 and $50,000 for first offences, depending on the size of the company. The amount of the fines would double for second offences.
Similarly, Ontario's Working for Workers Act, 2021, which comes into effect in June 2022, requires businesses with 25 employees or more to have a "written policy with respect to disconnecting from work," freeing workers from the obligation of responding to work messages and the overall "performance of work" once they've clocked out.
While the law may sound appealing on paper, Dave McKechnie, a Toronto lawyer with expertise in labour relations, told Narcity it won't actually "make the day to day life of a lot of Ontario workers better" because it will be tough to enforce.
This is Québec solidaire's second time proposing a bill on the right to disconnect. The first was introduced in June 2020.
In a statement released at the time, Leduc said "the pandemic has blurred the boundaries between personal life and work, which were already challenged by the growing presence of technology in our lives [...] But the law is not equipped to deal with this reality. The government cannot say on one side of its mouth that it wants to promote technology and work, and on the other, not regulate the right to disconnect."
Bill 799 would still need to pass through multiple stages of the legislative process and win a vote in order to become Quebec law.
This article’s cover image was used for illustrative purposes only.
HR platform WorkMotion's study, "The Cities Best Facilitating Remote Work: A Global Index," gave Montreal a total score of 98.20 based on 17 criteria. Melbourne in Australia was the only place to beat out Montreal with a perfect score of 100.
Canada had three of the top 20 cities with Toronto in sixth place and Vancouver in 16th. Actually, Canada had more cities in the top 20 than any other country on the list.
So why is Montreal such a great place to work from home?
According to the study, it's a great place for all of the following reasons:
Ease of Compliance
Remote Worker Visa Availability
Cost of Housing
Access to Housing
Safety & Security
Quality of Public Education
Access to Health Care
You can see the score and ranking for each individual criterion on the WorkMotion website.
After Melbourne and Montreal, the top cities for people to work remotely are Sydney (Australia), Wellington (New Zealand) and Prague (Czech Republic).
Dubai (U.A.E.), Honolulu (U.S.) and Mexico City (Mexico) make up the bottom three.
Last week, Quebec ended its teleworking recommendation, which means some of you may have to put on real pants and head back to the office as of November 15.
But the government says it's up to individual employers to decide what works best for them — and in the world's second-best city to work from home that could very well mean staying put.
This article’s cover image was used for illustrative purposes only.
Right now, you could book a work desk at Burgundy Lion in Little Burgundy, 212 Montreal in Old Montreal, Knox Taverne in Pointe-Saint-Charles, and Riverside, which is in Saint-Henri, along the canal.
You can even bring your dog to work with you at Riverside and 212.
It costs $9.99 to reserve a Workden space for eight hours, which includes a work desk, unlimited gourmet coffee, tea, and water, professional-grade Wi-Fi and access to community events — as well as a Community Manager who will greet you at the door when you arrive for your session.
Five-day passes, monthly passes and group passes are also available.
More Workden locations are expected soon in the Plateau Mont-Royal, the West Island, Brossard, the Mile End and downtown. The collective is also accepting suggestions for workspace locations via email.